Budget fashion retailer Shein is being slammed as ‘disgusting’ and ‘absolutely horrible’ for selling a swastika necklace on its website.
On Thursday, the Instagram account @hereforthetea2 discovered the swastika necklace online and shared a furious post about the item, with is gold-colored and called the ‘Metal Swastika Pendant Necklace.’
The discovery quickly led to immense backlash against Shein, which has already pulled the offending item from its website.
Under fire: Budget fashion retailer Shein is being slammed as ‘disgusting’ and ‘absolutely horrible’ for selling a swastika necklace on its website
Gone: The $2.50 gold-colored necklace was labeled ‘Metal Swastika Pendant Necklace’ – but it has since been removed from the site
The necklace was available to buy for just $2.50 before a public outcry against anti-Semitism led Shein to remove it.
‘Shein, a company that’s become popular for YouTube “try on hauls,” appears to be selling swastika necklaces?!!! I am disgusted,’ wrote @hereforthetea2.
Marissa Casey Grossman, the founder and CEO of the fashion brand Shop Ambitionist, wrote: ‘I will NEVER be buying from @sheinofficial @shein_us EVER again. This is a company that I’ve bought from so much over the years and to see this is ABSOLUTELY disgusting.
The account Stop Antisemitism shared a post, too, demanding the Shein ‘IMMEDIATELY remove this item from their website as it represents the mass murder of millions.’
Other social media users chimed in as well, calling it ‘absolutely horrible’ and ‘f***ing disgusting.’
Uproar: Critics accused the brand of anti-Semitism, calling it ‘disgusting’ and ‘horrible’
Despite far-reaching outrage, though, some social media users have come to Shein’s defense, pointing out that the swastika is an ancient symbol with roots in several Indian religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.
In those religions, swastika have positive connotations, including prosperity and good luck.
However, in 1920, the Nazi Party adopted the swastika as an official party symbol. Their rendering — which was rotated 45 degrees from traditional swastikas — became synonymous with Nazis and the atrocities they committed, including the murder of six million Jews and 11 million people total.
Since World War II and the Holocaust, the symbol has become inseparable from the Nazis in Western culture — and is still used today by neo-Nazis in Europe.
Critics of Shein have countered those defending the brand by pointing out how the symbol has become irrevocably tainted in Western society — and charging that Shein should have demonstrated more sensitivity and understanding.
Apology: A rrepresentative for Shein clarified that the necklace was a Buddhist swastika, but apologized to those who were offended and promised change
Speaking to People, a representative for Shein clarified that the necklace was a Buddhist swastika, but apologized to those who were offended and promised to resolve issues like these in the future.
‘For the record, Shein was not selling a Nazi swastika pendant, the necklace is a Buddhist swastika which has symbolized spirituality and good fortune for more than a thousand years,’ the statement read.
‘The Nazi swastika has a different design, it is pointed clockwise and tilted at an angle. However, because we understand the two symbols can be confused and one is highly offensive, we have removed the product from our site.
‘As a multicultural and global brand, we want to apologize profusely to those who are offended, we are sensitive to these issues and want to be very clear that we in no way support or condone racial, cultural and religious prejudice or hostility.
‘We are actively working through our internal structure and processes to resolve these issues, including a product review committee to ensure that we respect our diverse community.
Backlash: Shein has also been slammed for selling Islamic prayer mats as decorative carpets and accused of cultural appropriation
Outrage: Instagram user @s.khadija.r shared screenshots of the rugs that were featured on the UK version of the Shein site
‘We are a global and all-inclusive brand and we are taking extreme measures to ensure that all items are cleared through a rigorous vetting process before we retail them.’
But many critics of the brand have pointed out that is is the second item to cause offense on the brand’s website in the past week.
Several days ago, the brand came under fire for selling Islamic prayer mats featuring Muslim imagery and calling them ‘fringe trim carpets.’
Critics took to social media to share images of the ‘disrespectful’ rugs while accusing the fast-fashion brand of cultural appropriation and demanding the offending items be removed from the site.
Instagram user @s.khadija.r called for a boycott of the e-retailer while pointing out that some of the carpets feature prints of Kaaba, a building in the center of Mecca that is considered the most sacred site in Islam.
One $17 rug depicting an image of Kaaba was described as the ‘Fringe Trim Greek Fret Carpet,’ while others were decorated with mosques and various Arabic motifs.
Say what? The rugs, which were decorated with mosques and various Arabic motifs, were called ‘fringe trim carpets’
Hitting back: The Instagram user called for a boycott of the e-retailer in her post
Angry: In addition to the images of the rugs, she also included screenshots of some of the reviews from customers who were using the mats for everyday use.
Using her platform: She explained that a prayer mat is ‘an important piece of fabric, used by Muslims, placed between the ground and the worshipper during their five daily prayers’
The ‘Flower Print Tassel Trim Carpet,’ which retailed for $10, had a print that of a mihrab — a niche in the wall of a mosque where the congregation faces to pray.
‘I am disgusted. I am livid. @sheinofficial is also PROFITING off Muslim prayer mats (janemaz/sajadah) by selling them as “fringe trim carpets” for people to use casually around the house. A few have the Kaaba printed on them. THIS IS HIGHLY OFFENSIVE,’ the Instagram user wrote.
‘Not only is it disrespectful but they once again renamed and stole credit from a whole faith this time, by failing to label it as a Muslim prayer mat, which allows people to use it casually as a decorative mat.’
She explained that a prayer mat is ‘an important piece of fabric, used by Muslims, placed between the ground and the worshipper during their five daily prayers.’
‘It is NOT a carpet and must be treated with respect and you don’t ever wear shoes on it,’ she stressed. It’s important for us to acknowledge the disrespect that is committed here, and that action must be taken to remove this product from their line.’
Blatant: The fashion watchdog Diet Prada also shared screenshots of the rugs. One rug (right) featured a print of Kaaba (left), the most sacred site in Islam
Religious imagery: The ‘Flower Print Tassel Trim Carpet’ had a print that of a mihrab — a niche in the wall of a mosque where the congregation faces to pray
Getting signatures: A Change.org petition calling out the company was launched over the weekend and has received over 7,000 signatures so far
She encouraged her followers to boycott the company, send emails, and raise awareness on social media.
In addition to the images of the rugs, she also included screenshots of some of the reviews from customers who were using the mats for everyday use.
One customer shared that she bought a rug for her cat.
‘I got this Matt to use for my cats food and water [sic],’ the reviewer wrote. ‘She absolutely adores it! She will even sleep on it. It’s super soft, thin material but soft. It was way better than expected!’
As the backlash continued to build, the fashion watchdog Diet Prada shared screenshots of the rugs being sold on Shein’s website.
The Instagram post explained that ‘the massive Chinese e-tailer known for dirt cheap prices, came under fire on social media this weekend for selling Islamic prayer mats as decorative rugs.’
Under fire: People have also been sharing their outrage over the rugs on Twitter
‘There’s little information available about Shein. A quick google search finds the company ranked in several “do not buy” lists due to the lack of transparency in their environmental and labor policies,’ Diet Prada added.
‘With most of their clothing priced between $5 and $20, it’s easy understand why. Other sites are rife with negative reviews of poor quality products.’
People have also been sharing their outrage over the rugs on Twitter, where YouTube star Nabela Noor voiced her thoughts on the matter.
‘This is unacceptable. @SHEIN_official is selling Islamic prayer mats & calling them “floral trim carpets.” I’ve reached out to the brand directly asking them to remove + to have a dialogue on why this is wildly offensive. Will update with their response,’ she tweeted.
‘My culture and religion is not a trend or something to rebrand and sell,’ she added.
More anger: Shein has also recently been slammed for selling ensembles resembling cultural clothing
Another strike: One critic noted that the brand was using white women to model the pieces
‘Shein is really selling Islamic PRAYER MATS and marketing them as floral carpets,’ someone else commented. ‘They can’t even twist this to say oh no it’s just a regular cute floral carpet + it’s being misconstrued etc because there’s a literal Kaaba on their “floral carpet.”‘
Someone else added: ‘So @SHEIN_official took Islamic Prayer Mats and made it into a ‘casual carpet’ that people are using to soak their freaking cat piss. Not only is this appropriation, it is BLASPHEMY.’
Shein has also recently been slammed for selling ensembles resembling cultural clothing and then having white women model the pieces.
‘So not only does @SHEIN_official appropriate South Asian and African clothing and profit from its fast fashion, but now I’m hearing they’re selling Islamic prayer mats as ‘Greek Fret Carpett,”‘ one person tweeted. ‘Never thought I’d be saying this phrase but @SHEIN_official you’re cancelled.’
Gone: Shein has since removed the offending rugs from its website
‘We’re sorry!’ The company issued an apology in an Instagram post on Sunday
Action: Shein revealed that it had formed a ‘product review committee with staff from different cultures and religions’ to prevent these kind of mistakes from happening in the future
A Change.org petition, titled ‘Put an end to SHEIN profiting off Muslim prayer mats + South Asian garments,’ was launched over the weekend and has received over 7,000 signatures so far.
Shein has since removed the rugs from its website, and the company issued an apology in an Instagram post on Sunday.
‘To our community — we made a serious mistake recently by selling prayer mats as decorative rugs on our site. We understand this was a highly offensive oversight and are truly sorry,’ the statement reads.
‘Since it was brought to your attention, we immediately removed the products from our site and asked our vendor to stop selling to others. We also formed a product review committee with staff from different cultures and religions so a mistake like this doesn’t happen again.
‘As a global brand, we vow to do a much better job in educating ourselves on different cultures, religions, and traditions to ensure our diverse community is respected and honored,’ Shein promised.
‘We offer our sincerest apology to all whom we have hurt and offended, and hope we can earn your forgiveness.’